Golden Orb

Quentin Coldwater's page

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht 1,386 posts (2,608 including aliases). 103 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 28 Organized Play characters. 9 aliases.



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Not that bad if you're forewarned, but still not great.

2/5

(I played this.)

In all honesty, I can see why people are divided about this scenario. It has many feel-bad moments in it. I like what the scenario's trying to do, but not how it's doing it. I need to go into spoiler territory, I'm afraid.

Many spoilers:
First off, I'm not a big fan of the mechanics of the monster. It appears without warning, and the scenario doesn't hint at how to handle it. Right now, only identifying it (and one datapad) will give information, but identifying it in the first place is nearly impossible. There certainly are some tricks to level the playing field, but those aren't telegraphed properly. A good scary monster should have identifiable weaknesses to exploit. Here they're present, but only through specific actions you can get to know them. Actions that aren't necessarily obvious.
I like that it has some advantages over the players. It gives it some extra scare, without directly cheating. But some abilities just make it feel like an unwinnable situation.
I dislike how the dungeon can be a death-trap for several characters, without it it being their fault. Okay, I can get behind death through sheer bad luck, but I can imagine how some characters will die through no fault of their own. There is a way to loop around the dungeon, but that's only available to small creatures and lightly armoured characters. While the game system encourages, heavy armour. Right now Soldiers are the only class who are naturally proficient with heavy armour, but I see a lot of them running around. Chances are, they'll get driven into a corner and pounded to a pulp. That just feels unfair.

Someone at my table said it best. This scenario could work in a home game where the GM is aware of their party's capabilities and can tweak where necessary. But in a Society game, that's impossible. I can guarantee that even in a best-case scenario, it'll leave some players with a sour taste in their mouth afterwards.

I'm not as down on this scenario as other people, but I still don't like this very much. Only play this one if you know what you're getting into.


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Great scenario.

4/5

(I played this.)

This scenario is great. It's a bit heavy on the lore and hand-holdy, that's why it loses a star from me, but overall I have no big negatives. You come across a lot of strange things, which is wonderful, but becomes a bit fatiguing as you're trying to wrap your head around more and more events and NPCs. I was prepared for a more social scenario, but a lot of it was more "you go here, meet this person, get shoved to the next location." The whole scenario felt like it was on a moving walkway, rather than going at our desired pace. It went by just a little faster than I was comfortable with.

That said, it certainly isn't a bad scenario. I agree with a lot of the five-star reviews. I just think there's just a little too much content for your average PFS scenario.


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Fun, but a little underwhelming

3/5

(I GMed this.)

This module shows its age. It's not a bad module by any means, but it clearly doesn't stand up to today's level of quality. This is mainly in regards to combats. Granted, I played with a party of 6, on the high end of the level requirement, but most combats were almost not even worth bothering with. If you're going to play this, play it with 4 characters. Likewise, skill checks seem mostly trivial, except for a handful that are stupidly difficult. More balance would've been appreciated.

That aside, the atmosphere of this module was great. As the GM, I enjoyed conveying it, though I don't know how the players felt about it. The story is perhaps on the predictable side, but exploring the island was a fun experience in how alien everything is. I hope I did everything justice.
As other people have noticed, some more direction would've been useful. My players were roaming around with no clear objective until they came upon the key location that made everything clear.

All in all, I had fun running this. It might not have been the best it could've been, but it's certainly not a bad module.


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Just plain boring.

2/5

(I GMed this, and I have to admit I made a mistake in the mechanics that led to some negative play experience. Keep that in mind when reading this review. I'll try adjusting my experience for the positive, but it might still colour my review.)

This is a disappointment. As a player on my table said, you have a legacy like Rats of Round Mountain to follow up on, and you do it with this? Some of this will be spoilers (and appropriately tagged), while others complaints are spoiler-free.

The premise is great. Having to work and communicate with other Pathfinder for a bigger mission is a great set-up. Sadly, none of it pays off. You get communication tools, but they won't be of any use, and you get trading goods to negotiate with, but it's never referred to again, nor does it give a bonus on anything. Either the author had some ideas with them that got edited out, or never had them in the first place.

The whole idea is that your party spends time exploring and interacting with their environment and making checks, but never give a description of the results. Either the GM has to make up all the descriptions on their own, or just skip over them. There is no roleplay involved in any of it. Most of them are just, "look around, find samples." At some point, it just becomes a slog. About half of the scenario is just walking around and making checks, with no real input from the players and also no output from the GM.

Combats make no sense, either. There's mechanical things walking around (as seen on the cover, so no spoiler), while all entrances are supposed to be guarded, and a few undead roaming around a heavily-used lake while the inhabitants pass it off as a "haunting."

Spoiler:
The skill checks are ridiculous. The DCs are stupidly low. I made the mistake of eventually telling my players what the DCs were, which put them at ease, but whichever skill they tried, they automatically made it. At some point, I just got tired of them rolling and said they didn't need to bother anymore, and they just boggled at how low that check was.
So yeah, maybe my party was just lucky with their composition. PFS is supposed to be for everyone, and you can't guarantee that whatever is called for, you'll have in your party. But I did some calculations, and anyone with only a minimal to moderate investment in those skills (most of them aren't even that unusual to invest in) will make that check most of the time. If you have any INT-based character in your party, or just a skillmonkey, you'll crush this scenario. And conversely, if you have none of those skills trained, you're just plain useless and will fail the scenario. Either make it (or at least some of the checks) hard so that specialists can feel important, or don't bother at all. In-between is the absolute worst place to be.

In short, this scenario actively wastes your time. Story has potential but doesn't live up to it or makes no sense at all, combats are nonsenical (though pretty decent), the timeframe is too generous, and the skill challenges are laughable. I barely see any redeeming quality in this at all. I wanted to give it one star, but due to my mess-up I'll add a second, just to be on the safe side.


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Good for a Quest, but overall pretty poor.

3/5

(I played this. Also, my GM was a bit brain-fried due to the heat, that might influence this review.)

I like what the scenario is trying to do, but I hate how it does it. First off, the good part. Making four Quests instead of five allows for more narrative per quest. In the old quests, you had one combat, a handful of skill checks, and that's it. Now there's an actual narrative arc in each quest, with more skill checks to be made across several smaller scenes. That negates the "one and done" feel of older Quests.

The bad news is... The story doesn't deliver. I can't talk about this without spoiling, so...

Spoiler:
The blurb (and the title, even) promises to reveal a big secret, but that's probably all a big setup for later in the season, or maybe even PF2. You learn THAT there is a cover-up, but not what that entails. I feel like I've accomplished nothing during this scenario. That's a terrible feeling to have.
I feel like if this scenario was advertised differently, I would've enjoyed it more, but now it just ends on an unsatisfying cliffhanger, without any payoff.

Aside from that, the GM was constantly muttering about bad editing, even worse than usual. I haven't seen it for myself, but he was flipping back and forth constantly to find the necessary information.

Overall, I liked this scenario for its mechanical execution, but as a narrative experience, I feel it fails to deliver what it promises. If you just want to roll dice and have a good time, this will certainly be it, but if you're into stories, meh.


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Gnomes, man. Gnomes.

2/5

(I played this.)

This scenario is odd. The plot doesn't make much sense and the investigation feels stilted. While it's an unfair comparison, I likened it to season 1's City of Strangers, where you're supposed to piece things together through checks and the plot just happens to you. The investigation is weirdly abstracted and is more mechanical than it should be. There's no more creative input on the player's side, so it's just a matter of rolling checks, instead of giving the GM guidelines on how to approach this.

On the plus side, the combats felt pretty good. I liked them.

I wouldn't recommend this scenario. It's not horrible or outright offensive, but I just have a weird aftertaste of confusion.


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Decent adventure, with a few narrative oddities.

3/5

(I played this.)

This is a fun, short adventure. In the grand scheme of things, I have no major complaints, other than that it's kinda middle-of-the-road. Nothing exciting, but also not terrible. Just a decent adventure.

Small niggles:
- There's definitely some Goblin propaganda going on. That in and of itself I don't mind, but it's so heavy-handed and hamfisted that it's jarring.
- Water-quenching rules are needlessly changed for no benefit. It's not like you're learning a whole new subsystem for it, but the old rules worked fine. I guess these new rules allow for less table variation, but IMHO they just don't make sense.
Neither of these niggles directly impact the overall grade (I won't review-bomb this because of Goblin-positivity), but I do want to mention them, in case leadership and/or potential authors are looking through reviews.


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Great social scenario, with minor flaws.

4/5

(I GMed this and played this.)

I can be pretty brief about this scenario: the author makes some weird leaps of logic and I guess certain things got cut out during editing, but essentially, this is a great scenario. The social part works well and NPCs are described well enough that you can hold a proper conversation with them. Also, DCs are properly scaled that even non-socially-inclined characters can contribute meaningfully, I feel.

I especially like how certain choices mattered, even if only superficially. It makes the players feel like they've had an impact on the story, which is great. And from the GM point of view, these choices are easy enough to incorporate that they don't slow the game down at all. I've seen scenarios where this goes wrong, for example.

As said, the story is a little strange and NPCs behave oddly just to have the story make sense. Not too keen on that. I feel like this scenario fell prey to heavy editing, cutting out motivations and backstory, but this is only speculation on my part.

All in all, this is a fun scenario. It has some flaws, but it's certainly worth playing.


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Absolutely amazing on all fronts.

5/5

(I GMed this twice.)

This is probably my favourite module I've played so far. Everything just works. Story is basic but strong, theme is excellent, enemies are varied and interesting, and so on. There's a nice mix of roleplay and skills/fights involved, so it's not just a dungeon crawl or a roleplay-fest. There are a few minor nitpicks, but they don't detract from the overall grade. This is a fantastic mod.

I like that nearly every encounter is designed with the greater picture in mind. Almost every encounter makes sense and is not just there to fill an XP budget. That said, there are a few sidequests in part 2 that can easily be cut. A lot of encounters contribute to the greater story, but some others feel like they're just thrown in to showcase a new monster.
That said, I like the sidequest system in this module. It's easy to keep track of and as a GM you'll easily know which ones to cut or not depending on your needs.

All in all, it seems like the author really had the freedom to tell the story he wanted, and it worked really well. No wonder this was the 2013 Superstar winner.


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A scary boss, but even scarier PCs.

3/5

(I GMed this twice.)

Overall, this scenario does a good job at telling a story. Flavour-wise, everything that's in the scenario simply works. There's a nice setup, everything is laid out pretty well, and as a GM, I really appreciate the use of pictures to set the mood. Full marks for that.
There's a chase scene in here that's done really well. Both the parties I ran it for crushed it, but there's an interesting mix of easy and difficult skill checks, which I liked.
There's also a puzzle that went over really well. I think the GM should make some physical handouts for that, but otherwise, I like what the author did here.

But, sadly, there are two things that I'm not as positive about. First off, the map is large, but mostly empty. The author says the GM can fill some parts with certain stuff, but I would've liked a little more direction, and maybe more descriptions of the rooms themselves.
The other thing is, the PCs can get certain power ups. Which is a really good idea, it makes the players feel really good about themselves for doing cool things. The problem is, they get buffed too much. In both times I ran it, the boss was pathetically weak and didn't pose a challenge anymore. I would have personally liked it when the Reaver either lost some abilities, or the players get some power ups, but not both. This skews the fight too much in the PC's favour, and makes the victory feel hollow. Both times, my players commented how it didn't feel like they fought an epic creature.

Aside from that, though. I like the scenario. It's not amazing, but I've certainly seen a lot worse. It's got some good ideas, and aside from the negative parts mentioned up above, we all really had fun with the scenario.


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Decent scenario, if it were from 8 years ago.

2/5

(I played this.)

This scenario feels out of place. During a post-session talk, we all agreed how this scenario felt like it belonged more in Season 0 or 1, not in Season 10. The story is extremely predictable (including the obvious bad guys), doesn't give the players free rein, and consists of mostly incompetent NPCs to drive the plot. The scenario is never actively bad, but it also doesn't rise above mediocrity, save for a few NPCs. I'll now go into spoiler territory,

Goblins:
We all remarked how blatant the "Goblins aren't necessarily evil"-push is regarding Pathfinder 2. The author tried really hard to show them in a good light to promote Goblins as good guys, in a way that kinda broke immersion.
That said, Zigg (sp?) and the Gobfather were amazing.

Combats:
We were on the verge of high tier, but played down. That has a big influence on difficulty. But even with that, I'm sad that there was almost no variety in combats. They're all melee types without any tricks up their sleeves. Combats could've been so much spicier without being more deadly, but sadly, that didn't happen.

All in all, it's a decent scenario, but it doesn't live up to the quality of writing I expect of Season 10.


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Simply fantastic.

5/5

I could write so much about how good this scenario is, but I feel words don't do this justice. Just play it.

I'll try anyway. This scenario is so over the top weird, it's literally unlike any other scenario I've played. The author clearly had fun with the setting, and it shows. Nearly every NPC is interesting, memorable, funny, or a combination thereof. I have only one complaint, and even that won't be able to not warrant a five-star review.

Lanzio:
You're asked to subtly interrogate him. We spent quite a while thinking of a cover story to get him to talk, but in the end, he was scripted to break into a fight, through no fault of our own. I feel that's a bit of a shame. His backstory is interesting, but that's clearly being set up for later, which is also disappointing. I'd rather have that not be relevant and let that be a revelation in a future scenario, than to tease us with it and not do anything with it.

As said, this scenario is cool, weird, and funny. This is a definitive must-play.


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Good scenario, with a great take on combat.

4/5

(I played this.)

Note: I am good friends with the author, so I might be biased. I'll try to not let that influence my review, but just so you know.

This scenario does one thing really well, in a way I haven't really seen before: enemy positioning. The starship combat and one regular combat were really interesting, because positioning and movement really mattered. Especially in the ground combat, the map wasn't just set dressing, it was an integral part of how the combat worked. It added a layer of tacticality to it I really enjoyed.

Aside from that, I didn't really get a good grasp of the story being told. There was something going on in the background, but it barely mattered. Even the handouts, while it tried to tell an interesting story, failed to really make things clear.

It also ran quite long. That's not a for or against, but just a warning that it might not fit into a tight timeslot.

Still, while the scenario as a whole didn't wow me enough to be worth five stars, I really enjoyed most of it. Well done, especially for a relatively new author.


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Great example of high level play.

5/5

I was one of Monkhound's players, see below.

This scenario is a great example of high level play. Some scary, unique monsters, cool challenges, everything. I wish I could be more descriptive, but it just works.

A fellow player lamented the fact that it was just mostly a dungeon crawl with one talky bit in between, she would've liked some more social stuff so actual roleplayers and skill monkeys would be rewarded. And while I agree, I think it's difficult to balance that at higher levels, while combats are just an easier way for players to show off their cool abilities, so I understand the decision. Still though, a bit more socialisation would've been nice, I think.

I have one small nitpick, which I'll put behind spoiler tags, as it's about the final boss.

Final boss:
My only complaint is that the final boss is encountered right after a five-foot hallway. That, combined with a Dimensional Lock, meant that it was difficult for us to properly engage the final boss.

I think this is a great scenario. It's properly challenging without being mean, combat-wise. I just wish non-combat-specialised (i.e. skill monkeys) people were rewarded a bit as well.


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Not bad, just terribly unexciting.

2/5

(I GMed this.)

I GMed at the same event as TheDegraded, see his review below. I pretty much agree completely with what he says. After having GMed and played Version A once, this feels like not enough has changed to keep it fresh. Yeah, if you switch tiers the enemies might change, but the overall story doesn't. Talking to the same NPCs again, meeting the same kinds of creatures but slightly different this time gets tiring. There are scenarios I've GMed multiple times and can keep invested in over multiple times, but this isn't one of them. When we reached the new part, it really felt like the breath of fresh air it needed much earlier in the story. Repeating one part of the story is understandable, but the second part had clearly overstayed its welcome. i think I agree with TheDegraded and skip part C, because honestly I can't muster the enthusiasm to go through either that museum or the Twinhorn part a fourth time.


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A quick but solid adventure.

3/5

(I GMed this.)

First of all, this is a good scenario. Everything works well, I have no complaints about that. Statblocks that are well laid out, information where you think you'd find it, and so on. So if I sound grumpy in the following paragraph, keep in mind that I generally think well of this scenario.

Now the bad stuff. This is the first time PFS goes to Iobaria, and I wish it had been fleshed out more, or given more importance. Now it just felt like any other place. A second complaint is that it runs short (3 hours, with plenty of banter, with 4 players). That isn't necessarily a complaint, but I'd hoped I could fill an evening with it. My players were also kinda surprised by it, they expected a little more. It just felt like something was missing, somehow.

Aside from that, I liked the scenario. It doesn't do something radically different or innovative, but not every scenario needs to do that. It's a solid, quick romp with no real flaws to pick, aside from the location feeling underused.


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Great for newcomers, good for veterans.

4/5

(I played this.)

First of all, let me say I'm not a big fan of Quests. They're fine for conventions and letting people play a quick game, but for a regular PFS night, I usually find these scenarios lacking. I tell this to warn you to maybe take my review with a grain of salt.

I think this is the first Quest that delivers on all fronts. They can be properly challenging, tell a cool story, and showcase what Pathfinder is capable of. Isger is a cool place that deserves to be explored more, and the story hook of this adventure is fantastic. All of the previous Quests had at least one weak (or weaker) adventure, but I think these are all of equally excellent writing. I especially liked one of the middle Quests, which added a bit more socialisation to the mix, which was a welcome change of pace.

Now, to the more negative part. As a PFS veteran, the "one fight per Quest"-thing really hurts the format, IMHO. It becomes predictable and allows players to blow through resources too easily. One possible remedy is to somehow offer a "convention mode" (play separate Quests for people wanting to burn an hour or two) and "game night mode," (where you follow a more conventional structure) for instance. I'm not sure if that's possible with the way Quests are currently set up, but it's simply a suggestion.

All in all, this is my favourite series of Quests so far. As a person more familiar with PFS it's a good romp, but it really shines for newcomers.


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Fun and imaginative.

4/5

(I GMed this.)

This scenario simply works. There's no weird rules or subsystems to track, it simply tells a story and has fun with it. The author obviously has a creative mind and isn't afraid to be weird. Pretty much every NPC and enemy can be interacted with and fights can be solved through alternate means, if you know what you're doing. Environments are interesting and varied without being overly complex.

I wish I could be more descriptive, but there simply isn't a lot to say if everything is this good. While I usually reserve five stars for scenarios that go the extra mile, don't take this four-star as a critique of "it could've been better", it's still very much worth playing.


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Long, but fun.

4/5

(I both GMed and played this.)

This is a fun scenario to play, on either side of the GM screen. I'd normally go into details, but there isn't much to say here, everything just clicks together. I have a few nitpicky points, but they don't detract from the overall grade. While it doesn't wow me, it's still very fun to play, and it deserves the good reviews it's gotten so far. The location's great, the NPCs are fantastic, this is simply what high-level play should be about.

Nitpicks:
It can run long. There are a lot of NPCs introduced here, and they're all fun to interact with. When I GMed it, I lost track of time and had to rush through the rest, which is a shame. If you have a longer timeslot or aren't worried about running long, this is a great scenario to burn a few hours with.
While the first part is sort of open-ended, there clearly is a preferred route. Otherwise your players might gain bonuses for parts they might've already completed. As a GM, maybe pressing the urgency of meeting Aslynn might be a good thing. My players wandered around for a bit and while it didn't ruin the narrative, a different order would've been better.
As other people have said, this scenario feels a little disjointed. The second part doesn't really follow logically from the first part, and there could a bit of a narrative/mood whiplash. It didn't really affect my table, but I can see it being a thing for others.


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This isn't an adventure, but the prelude to one.

2/5

(I played this.)

I did not like this scenario. The combats and the challenges were fun, but the story is purely sequel-bait. We get tasked with finding three MacGuffins, but there is no information to be obtained what they do, only that they'll be important later. Then out of nowhere a baddie appears we're supposed to care about, but we don't. This whole thing feels like a season 1 scenario, where proper rules weren't really codified yet and writers could do whatever. I guess it'll be important for later, but as a stand-alone adventure, it feels really lacklustre. I'd go into more details about it, but I simply can't muster the enthusiasm.


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Cheesy fun, but lacking some bite.

3/5

(I both GMed and played this.)

Speaking as a player, this is a decent scenario. Fun, nice attention to details, and so on. You should really take the story with a grain of salt, as while it advertises itself as a spooky scenario, you can't take it seriously. It's pretty cheesy, but if you roll with it, it's great fun.

Speaking as a GM, this is a terrible scenario. As other people have said, it feels more like a flowchart of "if people do this, go to page X." So much space and attention is spent on eventualities that don't (or shouldn't) happen, that the entire scenario suffers from it. There's a lack of flavour text (or spread out along different paths, so you can't get everything in a single session) and direction that is really needed. It feels like the author wanted to make it a sandbox, but there really isn't enough material for it. There's some good setpieces here and there, but as a whole, it falls short.

On either side of the screen, this scenario will run short. The scenario is written for if the players exhaust all the options, and then you'd get a solid 4-5 hours of play out of it, but I think most people will finish it in 3-4. Combats are a bit disappointing, and enemies aren't a real threat (maybe it was the four-player adjustment skewing it to the easy side, but the same thing also happened on a different tier with a full party). There's certainly fun to be had, but I'd expected more from a "spooky adventure" with this much interesting background.


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Pretty good showcase of rules, but not for PFS.

3/5

(I played this.)

First of all, I want to get out of the way that I enjoyed this scenario. The mechanics are interesting and there's a fun challenge in here. As a showcase of what army combat can do, it's perfect, but this should not have been a PFS scenario. I'll get into more detail in the spoiler tag below, but the gist of it is that you shouldn't spring this on a normal group of players without preparing them first. My GM had great handouts we could use that alleviated a lot of clunkiness, but it's still a big chunk of rules to digest. And it takes a long time. If you get knocked out halfway through (which is very well possible), you'll have to watch other people roll dice for an hour until the combat's over. The mass combats follow each other quickly, but it still took way more time than it should've. While I did find it fun to command an army with different stats, they just didn't have that much versatility a regular player character would have, and loses out on a lot of immersion because of it. Still though, I enjoyed the time I spent with it and I like it as an experiment. But please, just stick to regular rules next time.

More in-depth complaints about army combat:
My main issue is that the "special armies" are more or less counterproductive. It's touted as a big thing that you've collected special boons, and the armies are a fair bit stronger than the regular ones. But the GM gets extra armies to compensate, but it's not a fair balance. More HP means nothing when three armies are attacking you simultaneously. We've tried to avoid the "murder-death-ball," as we fondly called it, but it was unavoidable. As soon as two or more armies join forces against a single opponent, there's no stopping them. You're outnumbered and unless you have great advantages, you can't get out of that fight without heavy losses.

The fact that there's no way to get backup until you retreat only worsens this. We had a fight where I knew I was going to lose, but I had to stick it out to see if I could whittle them down somewhat for the rest of the group. And we had to watch someone else roll dice for way too long as she battled three armies on her own without us getting a chance to help out.

My most important critique is that the damage felt too swingy. I liked the idea of a defense stat that's both your AC and your damage soak, but I really miss having a separate damage die. This might've been just us, but if the enemy rolled well, it rolled really well, chopping away 10+ HP at a time. When you have HP in the mid 20s that's a lot. Two unfortunate rolls can wipe out an army way sooner than it should. This cuts both ways of course, and players can overkill enemies easily as well, but it still feels like the balance is off somewhere.

And finally, I think the rules in general are decent, but still needlessly clunky. Way to many knobs to turn on or off, dials to turn, and so on. I notice a trend in supplementary rules: more complicated than it has a right to be. Modifiers come and go, too many options to analyse or keep in mind, and things generally out of your control. A friend compared it to a very slimmed down Warhammer combat system, but I still feel like there could've been more slimming down. I get that they're great for additional options, but at some point enough is enough, and players can't absorb anymore.

So basically, my complaints can be summed up as "too many rules thrust upon you for little gain," and "could've been tweaked a little more." As far as complaints go, I guess that's pretty decent.


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Finally, more Valais!

3/5

(I played this.)

As Alexander below me has said, there's a nice amount of thought put into the mission briefing and justifications for possible evil-aligned party members, which is a nice touch. I like how PFS has started to think about little details like this. Our GM admitted he added some flourishes to the description of Heaven to make it more evocative, but I was impressed with how much care was put into making the plane feel different from our own (which, again, might be just the GM, so I can't properly comment on it). So, with a proper GM, I feel like the tone is conveyed really well.

Now, on to the less good news. The whole scenario felt like nestled sidequests to me. The opening challenges were fun, but soon afterwards it devolves into a series of chores, and at one point, a chore within a chore. They were still fun chores, don't get me wrong, especially the theatre bit, but it didn't feel like a proper adventure. It felt like busywork. I still liked the scenario overall, but looking back on it, I think I expected more from Heaven.

In the end, everything felt a little underutilised. Valais didn't feel as impactful as she should, Thurl was name-dropped but not a major factor of the story, and Heaven felt weird, but didn't really get its time to shine, either. Mechanically everything clicked together nicely, but I wasn't wowed by it. Definitely a decent scenario, but not a must-play.


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Downright devious.

4/5

(I played this.)

This is exactly what is says on the tin: a series of challenging traps and monsters specifically designed to kill the party. From a design standpoint, this module is excellent. Rooms with unique designs and puzzles to keep you on your toes. While some things are mostly resource-drains, there are some great encounters here, and they all test the players on different aspects. Be prepared for everything when you go in here. It's been a while since I played Bonekeep, but I'd say they're comparable. In fact, I'd say most of the encounters were easier than the traps themselves, but we did have a great frontline.

While most rooms are fair challenges, I'd say one room is just outright mean-spirited. It didn't help that the GM rolled really well against us, but we needed all the cheese we had to survive it. Other than that though, an all-star dungeon to see if your party has what it takes to be called a badass.


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Great fun, but could use some work here and there.

4/5

(I both GMed and played this. I'm mainly judging on my GM experience.)

Season 2 is very hit or miss. Usually there are good ideas at work, but the execution is lacking. This scenario is so close to hitting that ideal sweet spot.

First off, the main location is fantastic. I told the backstory of Allegro College and one of my players commented how that could fill several scenarios alone, and I agree. PFS doesn't really do "flashback" scenarios, but I'd at least like to see a followup on what happened there.

The puzzles are relatively easy, but my players had fun solving them. It's also a relatively unique puzzle, so there's that. The opening skill challenges were also interesting to play out. And of course, Grandmaster Torch. One of my players had already played a Season 4 followup and hated GMT, so it was fun to see him interact with the NPC. My only complaint here is that the skill DCs seemed a bit low, my players aced them without breaking a sweat.

The only thing I can honestly be negative about is the combats. It's the typical Season 2 blues, low-level humanoids that are built more for flavour than for effectiveness (even disregarding the power creep, they're still underpowered). As another reviewer said, builds that can't do what they're supposed to do, it's not a challenge. They have interesting abilities, but simply lack the build to pull it off. They're lacking in offense (both to-hit and damage) and in defense (saves, AC and HP). Fights were already decided after two people had acted. To be fair, my players had a stellar combination of crowd-control and damage output, but still, fights seemed more like an obligatory inclusion than an actual challenge.

One other minor nitpick is that I like the idea of the Shadow Lodge storyline, I just think it's poorly executed, especially since after a whole season of repetitive multiparters, this is the only scenario that properly explains the whole ordeal. I'd have liked the storyline to be more interwoven with the other scenarios, explain a bit more about them.

Still, despite that, both my players and I had a great experience. Very interesting on the lore side, okay in the combat department. I'd gladly play/run this again.


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